The Casual Librarian

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February’s Special Guests

Thursday February 21st 2013

As part of today’s class in the School of Library and Information Studies our lecturer Maria has organised a guest speaker, Bernard Barrett, according to his profile he is a Information Scientist/Research Officer for HSE Child and Family Services.

To gather some insight on his talk Maria sent us a recent article he wrote about advocacy which was very engaging and challenged some issues surrounding a new identity of Libraries and Librarians.

We also had to research some health reports which documented many ways in which health libraries had been effective in supporting Hospital staff in the way they need to retrieve information about medical issues.

One of these documents that has been instrumental in recent times can be sourced here. 

Bernard as a speaker is exceptional he is very easy to speak to and lays out the problems that librarians and information professional face. Before class myself and a few other classmates had a cup of coffee with Bernard and we had a very engaging discussion about how we as budding librarians can transform the profession and bring about change.

Laura Toogood, SILS Alumni: Career Options for SILS

The above talk was organised by our head of school Lee Komito, Laura attending UCD as an undergrad and secured her PhD in Social Informatics. Laura is based in England, she gave a very interesting talk about her time in UCD and how she progressed onto the PhD, from there she documented her journey and how she has set up her own website.

It was very reassuring to hear from a previous student of SILS that there is progression in this discipline and that our skills can be transferable to many different sectors.


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New Beginnings



This weeks reading from Bernard Barrett, truly reminded me of the time of year it is, Springtime!

It is the time to uncurl ourselves from the cold hard soil that was winter, and embrace the sunshine, (even though there is no warmth in it just yet) we will still run for our summer shoes, throw on our blazers and by the coolest sunglasses!!

Preparing ourselves for change is where we as Library Students are, and within the words of Bernard we can help prepare to Change the Script.

As another classmate touched on in her blog recently the word library in the dictionary has a traditional annotation to it, we need to bring these original ideas and adapt them into the qualifications that librarians are developing.

The properties of Advocacy that Bernard speaks of are not new to the Professional within a library world, we do take our world very Personal and with it a lot of Passion. (As we have noticed from the Terry Deary comment that has been floating around Twitter)

It is this attachment to our love of Information, Books, Authors, Academics, Students, Technology and more, that make us want to develop and renew what is the soul mission of a library, no matter what context it is in.

Bernard does hit the nail on the head when he says “Person, Place or Both”?  We are struggling to get the world to see a new place or space, away from the hush hush that once was libraries. In addition we are getting not only communities, but governments to see that we are not just a person that sits behind a desk and stamps books, we actually do provide a plethora  of professions that we can adapt to and succeed in if the wider world just realised this.


This week has been a challenge, it has been embraced and I have had many things to sit and think over.

I have entered a capstone project with the view to looking at health libraries which had not been an area I have given much consideration, which incidentally was one of the reasons I said… go for it.

As I have been reading various pieces to upgrade my knowledge, and last week I had the opportunity to met with a Health service Librarian in Dun Laoghaire, I was truly amazed at the level of expertise one needs to know and second the vast networks you need to be attached to, in order to be apart of the medical world, which makes it astonishing that it is one areas of libraries that is under threat.

The 2011 Report by LAI-HSLG is an eye opener, its difficult to assess that medical librarians are there to give

1) Access of information to major heath professionals

2) Interpret various amounts of information either for these these health professionals or governmental bodies, or policy makers

3) Work with the Hospital, Government bodies and Legal Professionals in order to make sure all these pieces of “medical” information is correct and up to date!!!

How are these people not needed?

In today’s world the need for marketing is apparent, and I think the reason medical libraries need to do this is because they need to re-brand themselves and make themselves more expansive than what they are, to illustrate to all these organisations that the skills a medical librarian has is second to none, and without these skills many doctors and nurses and governmental departments will find that they will  be doing a lot more information searching than actual medical practice.